I recently did an Instagram live where I talked about my brush with baby blues following the birth of my boys. In both instances, the key thing that pushed me deeper into feeling unhappy was lack of sleep. And in both cases, sleep training the boys was instrumental in helping me regain some control over my life.
Why Was Sleep Training So Important For Me?
First of all, I want to put this in context. I was a mom of two boys, with a husband who traveled 4 days a week every week, and had no family nearby. On top of that, I was a blogger and mompreneur with many different projects going. Finally, I am one of those people who find it almost impossible to function without sleep.
Below, I'm going to share 2 sleep training strategies that really helped us sleep train our kids in a gentle, relatively tear-free manner. As a bonus, I'm also sharing an incredible app that I wish existed when I was sleep training my kids.
As always, please remember that I'm not a doctor. It is always a good idea to run changes in routines with your pediatrician for peace of mind. Also, not all kids are the same. These are tips and tricks that worked for my children but they may not work for yours. It is so important to listen to your own baby's and kids' cues and do what works for your family.
Sleep Training Strategy #1
Follow the Eat, Play, Sleep cycle. This was advice that we received from a 65-year-old nurse in the L&D ward when A was born. She said that she'd been working in L&D and pediatrics all her life and the most common complaint she'd see moms make was that their kids won't sleep without nursing or a bottle. Her advice- feed the kids after they wake up, not before they sleep. I can promise you, this hack saved my sanity. Since neither baby needed to nurse before sleeping, anyone could put them to sleep. This was especially handy on the rare occasions we had our moms visiting and I could get a night off. Moreover, because they weren't dependant on me or a bottle to fall asleep, they didn't need it when they woke up in the middle of night. It allowed them to self-soothe and go back to sleep.
If your baby is on a play, eat, sleep cycle, you can adjust that by spacing out the time between feeding them and putting them to sleep and keep stretching that time. Again, this may or may not work for you but removing nursing/feeding as a sleep association will definitely make your life easier in the long run.
Sleep Training Strategy #2
Consistency is key. Too many parents try different sleep training methods and give up on each one within a few days. It is so important to be consistent in the bedtime routine over a period of time. Our pediatrician always recommended picking one method and sticking to it. What we chose to do for both our kids were having a specific bedtime routine that we repeated every night without fail. This meant that the kids knew when it was time to sleep because we would follow the same ritual each night.
I cannot stress how important it is to make sure that the ritual includes a set bedtime. We gave up so many evening engagements because we didn't' want to disrupt their routines. It was difficult at that time but it means that the kids are used to their sleep routines now, and even if we have to adjust them for travel, they are flexible and able to independently regulate their sleep without meltdowns.
Sleep Training Strategy #3
This is something I desperately wish was available when I was sleep training my boys. I was recently introduced to the Huckleberry sleep app. This app was created by two Berkeley PhD's and an all-star team of data scientists and pediatric sleep consultants. It helps you collate information about your children's sleep habit and gives you a comprehensive sleep plan including a sleep profile, schedule and tracking to get them sleeping through the night. Because it relies on the information you provide about your child, the sleep schedule and profile are uniquely tailored for your baby.
Since I love all things techie, I downloaded the app and played around with it and it was AWESOME. I love that it works for kids up to 5 so even if you are past the baby stage and still struggling, the Huckleberry app is a great option for you. Not only did it give me the customized sleep profile and schedule, it also gave me specific times that are the “sweet spot” to put kids down for a nap and when to get them to bed. It is so easy to use, very intuitive and most importantly, offers really practical ideas and advice on how to get your kids sleeping through the night. You can learn more about Huckleberry Labs right here and also download for iOS or Android.
Sleep is one of the best gifts you can give your children. Babies and kids who are well rested are much happier and more able to learn and absorb information. Moms who are well rested because their children sleep well are better moms, more patient and happier partners. I hope you try my strategies and the Huckleberry sleep app for helping you in sleep training your children. If you do, or if you have other hacks that have worked for you, leave a comment below and share them with us.